Steelers 2023 draft plans revealed after the first week of free agency
By Eric Hassel
As we sit here right now, the Steelers had what I would label as an 'interesting' first week of free agency, not stellar but not 'head scratching' either. While we certainly could and probably will sign either some of our own free agents or free agents from other teams between now and the draft, I believe our draft plans now come into focus with the free agent signings of last week.
The most recent signing of Isacc Seumalo, for example, coupled with the signing of Nate Herbig to me signals a clear intention of the path we will take in April in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft. Obviously, things may transpire between now and then that would alter the plan but I don't think we would deviate too much from it. So what exactly is the aforementioned plan?
The Steelers will target an offensive tackle in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft
Full disclosure: I have no 'intel' on what we are planning to do or are actually going to do when our turn in round one comes around, but I do have an idea, and I would offer that it is a pretty good idea, based on what we just discussed above. It is no secret that the Steelers want to invest in the trenches to protect Kenny Pickett.
No disrespect to any of the O-linemen who started and/or played in 2022, but the reality is we need to get better at certain positions. One position that has not been addressed thus far in free agency is offensive tackle. This is the reason we will target an offensive tackle at pick number seventeen.
My preference would be Peter Skoronski from Northwestern. Although we did not necessarily send an entourage to Northwestern's Pro Day, I would not take that to mean that we have no interest in him. My son and I watch a 'ton' of college football and I would offer that Skoronski is the most technically sound tackle in this draft class.
While he does not possess tremendous size as he is listed at 6' 4" and 313 lbs., he put up thirty reps on the bench press at the combine. Coupled with his technique, he is plenty strong to be a stalwart at left tackle. If he has already been 'scooped up' by the time we pick at seventeen, the Steelers could select another tackle or we could trade down.
Personally, I don't believe there is another tackle worth taking at seventeen so maybe we pivot and take a defensive player, a cornerback, for instance, at seventeen or, as I suggested, we may trade down, which would not be the worst thing in the world.
What I do think would be the worst thing in the world is if we reach for a player at seventeen just because we have a need at a certain position. I have always been a proponent of drafting the best player available regardless of position. If Skoronski is not there at seventeen and we want to stand pat, so to speak, we should then take the best player available.
As I said, I have no inside 'scoop' when it comes to the Steelers draft plans. Also, as I said, I think the fact that we signed two free-agent guards is an indication that we are leaning toward drafting an offensive tackle in round one. If we believe the rumor that we were interested in signing free agent left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., it makes perfect sense that we would now draft a left tackle at seventeen, but, like anything else, only time will tell how this shakes out.